Chelsea Dickenson’s best holiday deals!

New research reveals that despite the cost-of-living crisis, people are so eager to take a holiday this year that they cut back on junk food, meals and new clothes in order to afford a little sun. So vacation expert Chelsea Dickinson is here with her tried-and-tested hacks for getting the best vacation deal.

Tips before booking:

  • Find your accommodation first - don’t let cheap flights distract you, the extra £40 on board will be worth it if your accommodation is £300 cheaper for that period.

  • Be flexible about dates and destination

  • The cheapest flights are mid-week and early morning or late night

  • Use data to see if you’re getting a good price Kayak, Google Flights, and apps like Hopper will all collect data to tell you if you’re getting a good price for the trip you’re looking for. Kayak and Hopper will advise you whether you should book now, or wait longer!

  • Don’t worry too much about incognito mode - there’s very little evidence to prove that browsing in Private mode will get you a cheaper fare.

Hotel reservations only:

  • Stay Saturday to Monday - make the most of our cheap Sunday hotel rates.

  • Find the Cheapest Night at a List of Things You Want Hotel - Google Hotels will show you the nightly cost of most hotels in its calendar view.

  • Use Pruvo to book your hotel reservation - If you’ve booked a room with free cancellation, Pruvo will track your reservation and email you if the price drops. This way you can rebook at a cheaper rate!

  • Ask for an upgrade - email in advance and be nice and polite and tell them exactly what you want. If it’s a special occasion, mention it.

long trips

  • Check flights with layovers

  • Sign up for our free cheap flights newsletters - Jack’s Flight Club and Secret Flying alert you when there’s an unreal deal to be had. Recently, there were business class flights to North America for £500!

  • Check to see if you have any airline miles - there are supermarkets that allow you to convert your reward points into airline miles. With Tesco you can convert every Clubcard point into 2.5 Virgin Points, so £1.50 worth of Clubcard vouchers will net you 375 Virgin Points. With Nectars (Sainsburys), every 400 Nectar Points converted is 250 Avios, and every 300 Avios is 400 Nectar Points.

  • Earn miles on credit card spends

  • Try and get a free upgrade! I asked my followers what worked for them, and the list included: If you know anyone who works for the airline, tell them you fly; If it’s a special occasion like a birthday or wedding, let the airline know; be the first or last to check-in; traveling solo; bringing candy to the crew; be kind!

short trips

  • Know your baggage policies - some airlines allow you to bring a small carry-on and small personal items, some only allow a small bag, and some only allow a small personal item.

  • Need a little extra luggage? Try the viral packing hack! Whether it’s stuffing your pants into your neck pillow, using a duty-free bag or packing extra clothes into an extra-large bra, there are plenty of hidden tricks to increase your carry-on baggage. My first tip is to wear nothing extra on your body - that means it won’t affect your weight restrictions!

  • Airline package deals aren’t always a good value.

  • Check Business Class - Once I was flying in from Rome half term and economy fares were £185 each. I checked the business class for a laugh and they were…£150! Business class often includes two checked bags, so if you’re checking in a lot of baggage, it can sometimes be cost-effective that way, too.

UK breaks

  • Leave the destination search empty - try typing “England” or “United Kingdom” and use the filters instead to find one that fits your budget. My favorite is finding cheap places with a sea view and a hot tub - it can be done!

  • Get your bargain! - Did you know you can bargain on Airbnb? I’ve done this many times and it’s a great way to keep the cost down. Works better if you are staying for more than 5 days or if you are booking really last minute.

  • Use deal sites - Travelzoo and Secret Escapes negotiate cheaper rates, so there’s some amazing value staying there. “I found a two night stay at this great hotel on Travelzoo got a room upgrade and breakfast and it was £209 instead of £458”.

  • Don’t say no to hostels - hostels have seen a real revamp in recent years - with plenty of boutique options to choose from! These are great for families as you can book private rooms for cheaper than a hotel room for two.